Last June I left my profession. I told people I had a plan, that I was going to be a writer or “something in social media.” It was total bullshit. I had no plan. I had no idea what I was going to do after teaching. I just knew I needed to leave the toxic situation I was in, and I trusted that I would figure something out when the time came. Leap and the net will appear, or something like that.
In an ideal world, I would have spent my school year (I gave notice in October) figuring out my future and developing a real plan. Except I didn’t know what to plan for. What else was I even qualified to do?
I’d also decided that I was going to move back home to Rochester, NY. I moved to Texas five years ago because I wanted an adventure, but I’d always intended to move back. I grew up within a 1-mile radius of my entire extended family and I figured that when it was time for me to settle, that’s where I would do it. Most of my relatives, including all of my immediate family are there. That’s where I should go, right? Be near family? It wasn’t really what was in my heart. I love Texas fiercely, but it felt like the right thing to do, and I assumed I’d be into it once I got there.
I packed up my belongings and put them in storage and then spent two months traveling around the country with Cooper. We explored, adventured, hiked, and shit in the woods (once together-it was super weird). I learned to live simply on what traveled with me in my little Mazda. I breathed a lot. I spent those months recovering from my school year and psyching myself up for what would come next. I am TOTALLY going to figure out my future, I told myself. Rochester will be GREAT. I can pull this off. I am making good life choices. I will figure out a plan.
I was about as convincing as I am when I sit in a steam room when the steam jets go off. I like this. This is NOT terrifying. This feels good. I LIKE the way this feels on my skin. I don’t go into steam rooms very often.
In my third month post-teaching, I began to get to work. I was still traveling, but only to places with wifi and I stopped shitting in the woods. I spent my days on my computer reading articles, taking webinars and online courses, and reading even more. I explored topics, learned basic coding and gravitated more and more towards digital media. I set up a website for my friend’s business and helped her develop a social media plan.
In September, I arrived back in Rochester full time. I started substitute teaching and I crashed with my mom. I spent my lunch breaks taking courses and reading online tutorials. I went to coffeeshops after work and read and learned as much as I could. I started a website exploring local activities to put some of my new skills to practice.
I thought about applying for jobs but I still didn’t know what I was qualified for and I was growing increasingly unhappy. Friends told me, “I mean, get your own place. Living with your mother isn’t real life.” Except getting my own place meant signing a lease and committing to staying. I wasn’t ready to commit. Getting a job meant the same thing.
I burst into tears when I called my car insurance lady so I could register my car in New York. “I mean, what if I, like, go back in the next few months. I mean do I really need to change my registration??” I sobbed. Actually sobbed, and Yolanda was lovely and calm and told me that I had another year to figure it out. I could keep my car registered in Texas. So I did.
Then things got real bad and depression came calling and it was hard to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up because I was busy shouting mantras to myself as loud as I could to keep myself from falling into complete darkness. I cried and I thought, I just want to go home.
Because despite my best of intentions, Texas is home. And with that decision to go back, suddenly all my work and all my reading paid off and I wrote a resume that looked like I was qualified for something in an office and not a classroom. I emailed every Austinite I knew and told them I was job hunting.
Everything started to come together. I got a call from a company and I interviewed with them over the phone. Then I interviewed again. My mom played her mom card like a champion, threw me an early Christmas, and gave me her blessing to take off early. We sat in in a cafe listening to a band sing a song about spending Xmas in Texas and she said, “This is you!”
I loaded up my car and Cooper and I headed home. I didn’t have to psych myself up with mantras. I felt them and believed them.
I spent Christmas with one of my bests and her family. I ate tacos, drank beers at old haunts, and smiled and laughed with friends I’d missed. I breathed in the Texas sunshine and felt so glad to be back.
I interviewed with that company again and then I waited. I waited and hermitted, only half breathing as I hoped and prayed to all the magical fairies that I had done enough to convince this company I was super qualified. That I really could pull off successfully changing professions in my thirties.
I did. Starting Monday, I will be a Digital Marketing Strategist for a super awesome company in Austin. The week after that, I will move into a fun, fancy, new apartment and I will finally get my things out of storage and sleep in my own bed with my own comforter for the first time since May.
Life never turns out the way I initially plan. Adulthood is complicated and hard. But it’s also exciting and I am constantly surprising myself with what I am capable of. I am starting my year with a new profession, new home, and new start in this great city.
Here’s to adventure!